Marketing Techniques For Small Businesses - Essay Example

7 Popular Marketing Techniques For Small Businesses Before your business starts marketing a product, It helps to create an Ideal customer who you want to reach with your promotional materials. Once you have your Ideal customer, you have a plethora of techniques to pick from. Most of these are low cost/ no cost methods (sometimes called guerrilla marketing) and you may use different ones at different stages of your business cycle, or you may utilize them all at once from your business’ inception. We’ll look at seven of these techniques in more detail. Do you have what it takes to work in this fast-paced field? This article will help you determine if marketing is for you. Hooray for Free Advertising When you build a business, the first thing you want to secure Is a customer base. With a decent printer, an answering machine and an average computer, you can put together a fairly extensive advertising campaign without having to pay for space. 1. Flyers This is the carpet-bombing method of cheap advertising. You find an area that you would like to do business in and you distribute flyers to all the mailboxes within reach.

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Your flyer should be brief and to the point, highlighting the services you offer and providing contact information. Offering a free appraisal, coupon or discount never hurts. 2. Posters Most supermarkets, public spaces and malls offer free bulletin board space for announcements and advertisements. This Is a hit or miss method, but you should try to make your poster reasonably visible and have removable tabs that the customers can present for a discount. Make each location a different color so that you can get an idea from the tabs where the most leads are being generated.

If there is one area that is producing the majority of your leads, you can better target your campaign (flyers, ads in papers catering to those areas, cold calling, etc. 3. Value Additions This is one of the most powerful selling points for any product or service. On the surface, value additions are very similar to coupons and free appraisals, but they are aimed at Increasing customer satisfaction and widening the gap between you and competition. Common value adulthood Include guarantees, discounts for repeat customers, point cards and referrals rewards.

Often the deciding factor for a person picking between card. You don’t have to promise the moon to add value; often you Just have to state something that the customer may not realize about your product or service. When o are making your advertising materials, the value additions should be highlighted. 4. Reforestations Referral networks are invaluable to a business. This does not only mean customer referrals, which are encouraged though discounts or other rewards per referral. This includes business-to-business referrals.

If you have ever found yourself saying, “we don’t do/sell that here, but X down the street does,” you should make certain that you are getting a referral in return. When dealing with white-collar professions, this network is even stronger. A lawyer refers people to an accountant, an accountant refers people a broker, a financial leaner refers people to a real estate agent – in each of these situations, the person stakes his or her professional reputation on the referral. Regardless of your business, make sure you create a referral network that has the same outlook and commitment to quality that you do.

As a final note on referral networks, remember that your competition is not always your enemy. If you are too busy to take a Job, throw it their way, most times you will find the favor returned. Besides, it can be bad for your reputation if a customer has to wait too long. (Are your shoulder’s wide enough to carry a company’s reputation? See The Marketing Director’s Pitch. ) 5. Follow-LCP Advertising can help you get a Job, but what you do after a Job can often be a much stronger marketing tool. Follow-up questionnaires are one of the best sources of feedback for how your ad campaign is going.

Why did the customer choose your business? Where did he or she hear about it? Which other companies had he or she considered? What was the customer most satisfied with? What was least satisfying? Also, if your Job involves going to the customer, make sure to slip a flyer into the nearby mailboxes, as people of similar needs and interests tend to live in the same rear. 6. Coalmining Unpleasant? Yes. Important? Yes. Cold calling, whether it is over the phone or door to door, is a baptism of fire for many small businesses. Cold calling forces you to sell yourself as well as your business.

If people can’t buy you, the person talking to them, then they won’t buy anything from you. Over the phone you don’t have the benefit of a smile or face-to-face conversation – a phone is a license for people to be as caustic and abrupt as possible (we are all guilty of this at one time or another). However, cold calling does makes you think on your feet and encourages creativity and adaptability hen facing potential customers. It is dishonest to pretend that the Internet is a cohesive whole for marketing – like a community hall you can put up a poster in or a section of the highway were you can buy billboard space.

However, it is difficult to overstate the importance the Internet has on marketing. The previous methods of marketing have not changed in the last 50 years. The Internet has been born and evolved rapidly during that same time frame. It is nearly unthinkable that a company, even a local cafe© will not have at least a website with the vital details such as location and hours. Not having a site means not having a point of access for the growing number of people who Google first when they want to make a buying decision.

Add to this asocial media presence (Backbone page, Twitter account) and the need for good SEE, and it can appear overwhelming. However, the technology has evolved to the point where Wordless – Just one example of a free HTML editor – can meet all these needs. Bottoming More than likely, you will find that the conversion rate on marketing is very low. Even the most successful campaigns measure leads – and converted sales from those leads – in the 10-20% range. This helps to shatter any illusions about instant success, but it is also an opportunity for improvement.

Do you want a company to buy your product? Give them a presentation showing how it will benefit them. Do you want someone to use your service? Give them an estimate or a sample of what you will do for them. Be confident, creative and unapologetic – people will eventually respond. (Understanding how to manage business credit is the key to obtaining small business loans. ADVERTISING TECHNIQUES EVENT GARDEN The suggestion that using this product puts the user ahead of the times e. G. A toy manufacturer encourages kids to be the first on their block to have a new toy.

FACTS AND FIGURES Statistics and objective factual information is used to prove the superiority of the product e. G. A car manufacturer quotes the amount of time it takes their car to get from o to 100 k. P. H. WEASEL WORDS “Weasel words” are used to suggest a positive meaning without actually really making any guarantee e. G. A scientist says that a diet product might help you to lose weight the way it helped him to lose weight. MAGIC INGREDIENTS The suggestion that some almost miraculous discovery makes the product exceptionally effective e. G. Hermetically manufacturer describes a special coating that makes their pain reliever less irritating to the stomach than a The suggestion that purchasing this product shows your love of your country e. G. A company brags about its product being made in America and employing American workers. DIVERSION Diversion seems to tackle a problem or issue, but then throws in an emotional non- sequitur or distraction. E. G. A tobacco company talks about health and smoking, but then shows a cowboy smoking a rugged cigarette after a long day of hard work.

TRANSFER Words and ideas with positive connotations are used to suggest that the positive elites should be associated with the product and the user e. G. A textile manufacturer wanting people to wear their product to stay cool during the summer shows people wearing fashions made from their cloth at a sunny seaside setting where there is a cool breeze. PLAIN FOLKS The suggestion that the product is a practical product of good value for ordinary people e. G. A cereal manufacturer shows an ordinary family sitting down to breakfast and enjoying their product.

SNOB APPEAL The suggestion that the use of the product makes the customer part of an elite group with a luxurious and glamorous life style e. G. Coffee manufacturer shows people dressed in formal gowns and tuxedos drinking their brand at an art gallery. BRIBERY Bribery seems to give a desirable extra something. We humans tend to be greedy. E. G. Buy a burger; get free fries. TESTIMONIAL A famous personality is used to endorse the product e. G. A famous basketball player (Michael Jordan) recommends a particular brand of skates.

WIT AND HUMOR Customers are attracted to products that divert the audience by giving viewers a reason to laugh or to be entertained by clever use of visuals or language. SIMPLE SOLUTIONS Avoid complexities, and attack many problems to one solutions. . G. Buy this makeup and you will be attractive, popular, and happy. CARD STACKING The propaganda technique of Card-stacking is so widespread that we may not always be aware of its presence in a commercial. Basically, Card-stacking means stacking the cards in favor of the product; advertisers stress is positive qualities and ignore negative.

For example, if a brand of snack food is loaded with sugar (and calories), the commercial may boast that the product is low in fat, which implies that it is also low in calories. Card-stacking is such a prevalent rational propaganda technique that gives us only part of the picture. GLITTERING GENERALITIES The glittering generalities technique uses appealing words and images to sell the product. The message this commercial gives, through indirectly, is that if you buy the item, you will be using a wonderful product, and it will change your life.

This cosmetic will make you look younger, this car will give you status, this magazine will make you a leader-all these commercials are using Glittering Generalities to enhance product appeal. BANDWAGON Bandwagon is a form of propaganda that exploits the desire of most people to Join the crowd or be on the winning side, and avoid winding up the losing side. Few of us unpopular. The popularity of a product is important to many people. Even if most of us say we make out own choice when buying something we often choose well- advertised items- the popular ones.

Advertising copywriters must be careful with the bandwagon propaganda technique because most of us see ourselves as individuals who think for themselves. If Bandwagon commercial is to obvious, viewers may reject the product outright. 10 Customer Service Tips The People aspect of business is really what it is all about. Rule #1: Think of customers as individuals. Once we think that way, we realize our business is our customer, not our product or services. Putting all the focus on the merchandise in our store, or the services our corporation offers, leaves out the most important component: each individual customer.

Keeping those individual customers in mind, here are some easy, down-home customer service tips to keep ‘me coming back! 1 . Remember there is no way that the quality of customer service can exceed the quality of the people who provide it. Think you can get by paying the lowest wage, giving the fewest of benefits, doing the least training for your employees? It will show. Companies don’t help customers… People do. 2. Realize that your people will retreat your customer the way they are treated. Employees take their cue from management.

Do you greet your employees enthusiastically each day; are you polite in your dealings with them; do you try to accommodate their requests; do you listen to them when they speak? Consistent rude customer service is a reflection not as much on the employee as on management. 3. Do you know who your customers are? If a regular customer came in to your facility, would you recognize them? Could you call them by name? All of us like to feel important; calling someone by name is a simple way to do it and lets them know you value them as customers.

Recently I signed on with a new fitness center. I had been a member of another one for the past ten years, renewing my membership every six months when the notice arrived. I had been thinking about changing, Joining the one nearer my home and with more state- of-the-art equipment. So when the renewal notice came, I didn’t renew. That was eight months ago. Was I contacted by the fitness center and asked why I did not renew? Did anyone telephone me to find out why an established customer was no longer a member or to tell me they missed me? No and No.

My guess is they don’t even know they lost a long-time customer, and apparently wouldn’t care. . Do your customers know who you are? If they see you, would they recognize you? Could they call you by name? A visible management is an asset. At the Piccadilly Cafeteria chain, the pictures of the manager and the assistant manager are posted on a wall at the food selection line and it is a policy that the manager’s office is placed only a few feet from the cashier’s stand at the end of that line, in full view of the customers, and with the door kept open.

The manager is easily accessible and there is no doubt about “who’s in charge here”. You have only to beckon to get a manager at your table to talk with you. . For good customer service, go the extra mile. Lunched a thank-you note in or photo in print; write a congratulatory note when they get a promotion. There are all sorts of ways for you to keep in touch with your customers and bring them closer to you. 6. Are your customers greeted when they walk in the door or at least within 30-40 seconds upon entering?

Is it possible they could come in, look around, and go out without ever having their presence acknowledged? It is ironic it took a discount merchant known for price, not service, to teach the retail world the importance of greeting customers at the door. Could it be that’s because Sam Walton knew this simple but important gesture is a matter of respect, of saying “we appreciate your coming in,” having nothing to do with the price of merchandise? 7. Give customers the benefit of the doubt. Proving to him why he’s wrong and you’re right isn’t worth losing a customer over.

You will never win an argument with a customer, and you should never, ever put a customer in that position. 8. If a customer makes a request for something special, do everything you can to say yes. The fact that a customer cared enough to ask is all you need to know in trying to accommodate her. It may be n exception from your customer service policy, but (if it isn’t illegal) try to do it. Remember you are Just making one exception for one customer, not making new policy. Mr.. Marshall Field was right-on in his famous statement: “Give the lady what she wants. ” 9.

Are your customer service associates properly trained in how to handle a customer complaint or an irate person? Give them guidelines for what to say and do in every conceivable case. People on the frontline of a situation play the most critical role in your customer’s experience. Make sure they know what to do and say to make that customer’s experience a positive, pleasant one. 0. Want to know what your customers think of your company? Ask them! Compose a “We’re We Doing? ” card and leave it at the exit or register stand, or include it in their next statement.

Keep it short and simple. Ask things like: what it is they like; what they don’t like; what they would change; what you could do better; about their latest experience there, etc. To ensure the customer sends it in, have it pre-stamped. And if the customer has given their name and address, be sure to acknowledge receipt of the card. Remember that the big money isn’t as much in winning customers as in peeping customers. Each individual customer’s perception of your company will determine how well you do this and that perception will depend on the level of customer service you provide.

Top Tips: 16 Must-Try Marketing Techniques You can have the greatest new product or service in the world, but if no one knows about it, who cares? When cash is tight, marketing budgets suffer. (We know: We’re in publishing. ) Here are some go-to strategies gathered from the entrepreneurial and academic ranks. Make ‘Me Laugh “Most marketing campaigns fall down because they’re specifically designed to sell reduces and generate leads,” says David Merman Scott, viral-marketing strategist and author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR. A better plan, he says, is to back off the sell and amp up the entertainment.

How: Microbial, in Cherry Hill, N. J. , helps companies gauge the creditworthiness of their clients. (Yawn. ) To spice up its message, it marketed itself by marketing its clients-specifically by creating edgy videos for them. For Red House, a furniture retailer in High Point, N. C. , that offers irreverent song about how Red House sells to “black and white people. ” CNN ran a light-hearted news segment about it. For Microbial, it’s a subtle sell: The company name doesn’t appear in the commercials, but in theory the more furniture Red House sells, the more demand it will have for Microfilm’s services.

Be a Guru: Part I Whether you sell real estate or fix teeth, you know a whole lot more about your business than your customers do. Attract attention by sharing that expertise. How: The world loves an expert. Two decades ago, Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group, a New York real estate firm, created The Corcoran Report-a timely, statistical snapshot of local real estate prices-and sent the data to the local swappers, which then printed the statistics. Another example: Every quarter, Microbial publishes a digital magazine, SEE, discussing regulatory changes and general tips on running small businesses.

Stick to a Shtick Some brands are so dialed in to a customer base-its history, interests and aspirations-that the marketing effort smacks more of a celebration. How: Jeremy Cowan, founder of Schmaltz Brewing Co. , maker of Hebrew beer, builds all his events around Jewish themes. Each year, he hosts an anniversary party where he gives out yarmulkes and Hanukkah Gel (kosher chocolate coins) with his brand on it. Jewish Ads often work their magic for free beer. ) Cowan also ran a contest asking for bat mitzvahs photos to create a collage now used on his label and invites. “It’s not Just weird,” he says. “It reinforces our message and our vision. Connect With Customers by Making Them Stars This is a less costly twist on Microfilm’s make-a-video strategy, with a dash of social- networking spice thrown in. Talented or not, people want to share their art, stories, even their hopes and dreams. Give them an outlet in exchange for sampling your product or service. How: When skin care company Philosophy launched a new arrogance, Unconditional Love, Just before Valentine’s Day this year, it put out a call for love stories to be posted on its Web site. It received 2,000 submissions. Each writer received samples of the perfume-and the company got their contact information.

Tweet (No, really, we mean it. ) By now you’ve heard about Twitter-that curious, strangely addictive social-networking technology that facilitates the exchange of torrents of severely truncated messages (140 characters Max) among millions of users. You may have read that it’s a waste of time-and in many respects, that’s true. What’s also true is that Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool. Here are 21 compelling ways to use it. Work the Press Mentions in the news media offer what traditional marketing and advertising can’t: exposure with implied credibility.

While PR is nothing new, plenty of companies (and PR agencies) still don’t get it. How: To get your foot in the door with Journalists, first build trust and rapport by offering information on your industry without angling for a profile, or even a quote. Second, offer constructive feedback on important stories; most Journalists’ e-mail addresses are online, so you can write to them directly. Third, remember that pain sells-in any economic environment. Cautionary tales that firms charge by the project or by monthly retainer (up to $15,000 a month). Tight on cash?

Negotiate a pay-for-performance contract-based on press citations or other measurable metrics. To save more than a few bucks, check out “Making The Media Your Mates. ” Be a Guru: Part II Disseminating data and white papers is nice, but ultimately connecting with customers is what counts. How: Add your own personal touch by speaking at local organizations and penning articles for publications. “Don’t dare try to sell anything,” says guerrilla-marketing expert Jay Conrad Elevations. Your price: a brief biography ND a link back to your Web site. Get on the Menu If you can, let others do your marketing for you.

How: Four years ago, Chris Landing, founder of Surrounds, online peddler of pants with horizontal whales (that go “around” the leg), had a clever viral-marketing idea. He convinced the proprietors of the Black Horse pub, his favorite watering hole in San Francisco, to add Surrounds as an item to its drink menu. The trade: Landing promised (by way of a biweekly e-mail to customers) a free beer for all who dropped by the Black Horse wearing his Surrounds. He only had to make good on that remises about once a month; meanwhile, hundreds of Black Horse customers ended up asking what the heck Surrounds were.

Host a Virtual Trade Show Traditional trade shows are a convention-center-sized hassle-and they cost a lot to boot. Add up booth rental and presentation time-slot fees, advertising, promotional doodads and travel expenses (never mind the lost time away from the office), and a company’s tab can rocket up to $100,000 per show. Hence the rise of virtual trade shows, designed to look and function like the real thing but that play out in real time in cyberspace. Entry fee: Just $3,000 to $8,000. Better yet, you don’t need to be a computer wizard to participate.

Here are nine steps for getting the most out of them. Meet the Neighbors The rise of online networks plugged into specific local communities is a huge marketing opportunity for small businesses. How: Lifted. Com, for example, allows users to post news, classified ads and restaurant reviews. The site keeps tabs on hundreds of “communities”-including specific apartment buildings and neighborhoods. Other sites that can help boost local visibility relayed. Com,laundresses. Com antedates of the Web. For more on getting the word out o target audiences online, check out “Seven Ways To Get The Word Out Locally. Build a Board to Buff Your Rep Small businesses are short on a lot of things, credibility included. The higher your profile, the more clout you’ll have with suppliers, partners and customers. A board of advisers can help. How: Trustworthy lawyers and bankers are solid additions to any board. Whatever the mix, collect a spread of perspectives and complementary skills; also, assemble an odd number (three is good for a small business) in case you’re basis: The advice your business needs at $500,000 in sales is different from what it needs at $5 million. Note: Don’t confuse a board of advisers with a board of directors.

For more, see”The Case For Not Having A Board. “) Light up Their Inbox E-mail marketing has been around for years, but the tricky part remains getting people to open the messages in the first place. How: Here are three handy tips, courtesy of Gene Marks, owner of the Marks Group, a technology consultancy to small businesses. First, avoid using generic addresses like [email protected] or [email protected] in the “from” line; second, keep the “from” name consistent and recognizable in all e-mails; third, be clear and specific as to what’s being offered in the subject line (“Acme’s Weekly Newsletter” won’t cut it).

Bake It in Marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought-it should be an integral part of the business concept and execution strategy. How: Kidnap, in Prescott, Arias. , aims to make going to the dentist fun for kids. Sadism’s office-in all of its red, blue and yellow glory- looks like something out of either a Bugs Bunny cartoon or a bad acid trip. While they wait for their appointment, kids can watch movies or play their favorite videotapes. Parents have been known to drive two hours to ease the pain. Barter for Exposure By now, everyone knows that the more people who link to a Web site, the higher it appears in Google’s search results.

That’s where all those trigger-happy floggers come in. How: Symphonists International, a Los Angels-based shop that turns print photos into digital files, offered floggers 1,000 free photo scans if they agreed to place a link to Can’s site on their blobs. Result: Within two months, Can’s site leaped to the first search page when Google users entered the phrase “photo scanning. ” (Note: Be sure to specify the text that floggers use when linking to your site-choosing the right keywords is critical to getting the most out of the search engines. Cozy up to Celebrities Think celebrity sponsorship is the solely province of companies with huge marketing budgets? Think again. How: When he wasn’t waiting tables at Red Lobster in Queens, N. Y. , Diamond John dreamed of launching a designer T-shirt company. To get started, back in 1993, he leaned on friends in the music industry to finagle his way onto music-video sets, where he mingled with the performers and even begged their stylists and crew members to don one of his 10 early designs. “l think I got 200 ‘no’s,’ ” John recalls.

He eventually convinced hip hop group Brand Nubian to wear his shirts in their video ” Word is Bond. Soon, the press caught wind of BIJOU, and now the full fledged “streetwise” company generates a whopping $370 million in annual revenue. Wipe Off the Lens If all else fails, take another hard look at the market and its willingness to pay for your product or service. How: Four years ago, Sarah Ending, a former Yahoo! Product designer, hosted small focus groups to hit upon a new candy idea: pebble-sized cacao beans smothered in premium chocolate.

In one effort, Ending invited 12 people to munch on everything from Gummy bears to organic chocolate bars; later she enlisted Harvard a-school students to host focus groups on campus. Result: a rocking little candy maker called Sweetbrier in Manhattans trendy SoHo district. (For Cheap. “) Ways to Promote Employees Employee promotion serves several purposes for businesses. Promotion, or career advancement, is often a critical component of employee retention programs. Clear, fair career advancement programs also encourage employee loyalty and satisfaction. Businesses have a variety of standard promotion models from which to choose.

Many businesses use more than one promotion model. Employee promotion programs meet the needs of businesses and employees when the rules are made available to everyone and are consistently followed. 16 ways to new markets INEPT Group have 16 ways on how to successfully enter a new market. Wry. Moviegoer. Com Noncompetitive and Competitive Promotions based on standard accomplishments that occur for all employees are noncompetitive. Employees are automatically eligible for promotion when they reach certain milestones and, barring any serious issues, are promoted.

Competitive promotions require employees to engage in a process that might include tests of skills or knowledge, submission of applications, interviews, and evaluation and imprison of performance. Career Ladder The career ladder is one method employers use to promote employees. The career ladder method is noncompetitive and is based on rules in effect that set forth the guidelines for promoting an employee when he has completed a predetermined length of service, such as one year, or when he has demonstrated his ability to perform the duties at the next level of his position.

Often, promotion occurs following an annual employee evaluation. Career ladder promotions are usually tied to salary increases. The U. S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps’ noncompetitive ruination program provides that employees are eligible for promotion when they have met several criteria, including no adverse actions, security clearance and performance requirements. Accretion of Duties Promotions based on accretion of duties occur when an employee is assigned and consistently performing higher-level duties.

For instance, a department launches a new program that results in new duties for an existing employee. The duties require more advanced knowledge and skills. Accretion of duties promotions allow companies to promote from within and avoid competitive hiring if the current employee meets the requirements. Merit Employers make merit-based promotions from a group of qualifying employees when a vacancy occurs. Merit promotions are competitive promotions.